About a Boy, Nick Hornby


“Loving people, and allowing yourself to be loved, was only worth the risk if the odds were in your favor, but they quite clearly weren’t. There were about seventy-nine squillion people in the world, and if you were very lucky, you would end up being loved by fifteen or twenty of them. So how smart did you have to be to work out that it just wasn’t worth the risk?”

About a Boy has been a long-standing favourite film of mine, especially around Christmas time.  I am an absolute sucker for stories about unconventional families.  And this is that, in a nutshell. I don’t know why it took me so long to actually read Nick Hornby’s book, but now I’ve finally done it and couldn’t feel happier.

For those of you who haven’t seen the 2001 film starring Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult (back then a pudgy cutie, now extremely hot British sex-god type), also featuring Toni Collette and Rachel Weisz, About a Boy is about a boy… okay, let me restart that.  It’s a story about Will, a man-child who has refused to grow up and become a contributing member of society, and also Markus, a boy with an extremely depressed mother and a tendency to get picked on at school.  By matters of coincidence, the two meet and form an unlikely friendship, and learn a lot about not only their relationship, but all relationships and how necessary these relationships are to all matters of human existence.  I apologize, that might have been the worst synopsis ever given.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that book, although starting much like the movie, went a completely separate direction closer to the end.   I suppose for many it would only discredit the authenticity of the film, but for me, it was like discovering a secret alternate ending, and I had no trouble justifying both of them in my mind.

I suppose what I missed the most in the novel, which I really quite liked in the film, was the direct narration provided by the characters.  Hornby chose to deliver the text through third person omniscient narration, and while still very cheeky and cute and clever, a part of me still wished to hear it from Markus and Will directly.

Still, that’s really my only criticism.  This was a fantastic book to curl up to (in a barely heated apartment) with a mug of tea while listening to Badly Drawn Boy’s kick-ass movie soundtrack.  I look forward to keeping this book around, like I do the movie, for those days when I despair that dating and coupling is perceived as the only recognized form of human relationships (especially in my age set.)

While at first we might believe the quote I posted here at the beginning, by the end we begin to realize something a little different:

“There were about seventy-nine squillion people in the world, and if you were very lucky, you would end up being loved by fifteen or twenty of them.”


Books Read: 4


5 responses to “About a Boy, Nick Hornby

  1. I read this for Bookstravaganza last year, and had also seen (and worshiped) the film first! I felt similarly about the narration style, but I still enjoy both in different ways, as they do feel very different. (I also bought my copy of About a Boy in a London bookstore, whaaat)

  2. Pingback: Hard is trying to rebuild yourself – Nick Hornby « Dancing with Fireflies·

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